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Andy Bezaitis

Eight candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for the four positions on the School District 202 Board of Education.  The RoundTable compiled a profile of each, including education, civic activities, etc., and then asked for their responses to the following: 1) State your views on the earned-honors program as it is currently implemented at Evanston Township High School. 2)  Please name two or three actions the Board could take, consistent with its goals,  that would help ETHS improve its education of all students – high-achieving, lower-achieving and those in the middle. 3) What differentiates you from the other candidates for the District 202 Board?

Andy Bezaitis

Thumbnail Profile: Carnegie Mellon, B.S. in electrical engineering; Illinois Institute of Technology, masters in electrical engineering; University of Chicago, MBA. Raised in Skokie/Evanston, attended District 65 and ETHS, moved back to Evanston with family in 2010. Twenty years experience managing organizations in technology, health care and education fields, with experience in strategic planning, financial performance and personnel management. Currently chief operating officer of CellTrak Inc. Three children attending Dewey, Nichols and School for Little Children.

Civic Activities: Co-taught Lincoln School Math Olympiad; Evanston 150, The More You Know, group member; PTA member at Lincoln, Dewey and Nichols Schools; AYSO Soccer coach; Team Evanston, team parent.

Earned-Honors Program: While I fully support the goal of the restructuring, I was concerned about the process, specifically the timeline to rush this as the only Freshman Humanities Honors option and eliminating Biology Honors for a mixed-only course prior to the evaluation. I felt that the approach the administration ultimately did take was less than transparent, and the result may not achieve the desired goals and potentially have unintended side effects for students at both ends of the spectrum.

I am now concerned about the divisiveness between the Board and the              administration regarding the release of data associated with this restructuring. In my opinion, we should have tested the restructuring on a smaller scale, followed the three-year recommendation and made sure it was achieving its stated goals prior to extending it to the entire freshman year including biology, and eliminating the honors-only option. While I am a proponent of experimentation it must include unbiased evaluation and willingness to evolve efforts that are not successful.

Possible Board Actions: a) Ensure that a culture of objectivity, transparency and process is at the root of all decision-making.  Focus and rely on sharing all information, encouraging and discussing multiple points of view, including our teachers and parents, prior to reaching one decision.    Great teacher empowerment is perhaps the most critical factor in student performance.  We have an outstanding faculty and need to support them.

b) Make partnerships successful.  D202/D65 partnership has to be a real partnership that is properly funded and prioritized.   

c) Insist on time and resources being made available so students as individuals can find and pursue their personal interests and abilities.  We can accomplish this by setting goals that create options for students and provide an improved use of counselors and mentors.

Distinguishing Attributes:  First, my background – I am a first generation American.  I understand on a first-hand basis that not all students come to ETHS with equal access, resources or support, and it is critical for our school to try and provide equal opportunities for all students regardless of these differences.  I graduated from Timber Ridge, Chute and ETHS and have children who will be attending Evanston schools for the next decade, so I have very personal and current connection to the community and ETHS.  I also have deep relationships with the current D65 Board, which I believe are important as we continue to try and improve D65’s partnership with 202.  I have a background in technology, engineering and entrepreneurship in various industries and have worked with many boards to achieve desired goals.

Second, my approach:  I am independent, process-driven, open to all options and have a passion and energy for the possibility of serving on the 202 Board.  I bring an open mind to the Board’s mission of serving our students and teachers through understanding, evaluating and improving ETHS with a focus on the goal and creating a collaborative environment where options are welcome and considered.